My report earlier this week on the September 2010 sales of comics through Diamond detailed an increasing problem: that the Top 300 comics were providing less and less of the overall picture, and actually showing the industry as worse off than my calculations of its overall size were finding. With today’s release of the top sellers of October 2010, Diamond has taken the unprecedented step of releasing month-to-month and year-to-year comparatives, based on everything it sold in the category:
October 2010 total comics unit sales
October 2010 versus 1 year ago this month: -5.26%
Year to date: -6.05%
October 2010 total comics dollar sales
Versus 1 year ago this month: -1.7%
Year to date: -4.82%
Versus 1 year ago this month: +29.05%
Year to date: -5.97%
October 2010 total trade paperback and graphic novel dollar sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: +13.04%
Year to date: -4.56%
Versus 1 year ago this month: -2.7%
Year to date: -6.04%
October 2010 total comic, trade paperback and graphic novel dollar sales:
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2.77%
Year to date: -4.74%
This is very significant. As I had observed, the Top 300 alone was not fully reporting the market’s performance — and not just for comics, but for graphic novels and trade paperbacks as well. Unit sales for the Top 300 comics year-to-date through September were down more than 7%; as we see above, all comics through October are only down 6.05%. The Top 300 trade paperbacks were off 8% in dollars through September, but all trade paperbacks were down only 4.56% in dollars through October. And the overall sales for comics and trade paperbacks — comparable, minus magazines, to the “overall” figure I’ve been reporting for seven years — is off 4.74%, nearly matching the 5% loss my overall calculation had been finding.
The presence of this additional data is very helpful, then, for detailing the big picture in the market. (It’s also gratifying to see additional confirmation that our wider estimates are on target.) Diamond also supplied data comparing October 2010’s sales with September 2010’s sales — they are down 2.7% in units but up 2.77% in dollars — but these are probably not as useful, since monthly sales differences are subject to oddities in the shipping calendar. We should also not pay overmuch attention to piece sales of trade paperbacks — or unit sales of trades plus comics — because trade paperbacks vary greatly in cover price. This month’s top-selling trade was the $19.99 Superman: Earth One hardcover, but the many of the other entries in the top ten were Walking Dead volumes, ranging from $9.99 (for the #2 seller, Walking Dead Vol. 1) to $34.99 (for the Vol. 6 hardcover). Comics are apples-to-apples, unit-wise; hardcovers, softcovers, and manga aren’t.
The top-selling title this month was Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force #1. Diamond’s Top 300 will be out next week; this time, there’s no need to speculate on how the months compared, overall!
Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.
He is the author of novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, Star Trek: Discovery – The Enterprise War, and his latest release, Star Trek: Discovery – Die Standing. Read more about them at his fiction site.
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